National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) Week 2023 will be observed nationally from February 27 to March 5. Now in its 39th year, NEDA Week provides an opportunity to shed light on eating disorder education and the experience of approximately 28.8 million Americans who live with eating disorders.

Alycia Oppenheim is an adjunct professor of English Composition at Broward College who has been battling an eating disorder for more than 20 years. Now that she is in recovery, she wants everyone struggling to know they are not alone. In 2020, she published the book “Living with ED: My Shadow Not My Friend,” which chronicled her experience and perspective on living with an eating disorder. A brief excerpt of her book, which was co-written with her mother, Dr. Phyllis Oppenheim, can be read below.

Excerpt from “Living with ED: My Shadow Not My Friend”

“It all began with no warning. Like the start of the world, one day there was nothing and then slowly things began appearing. One day I just remember thinking of imperfections. There was a line here or a piece of fat there and then it was all of me; all of me was imperfect and all of me needed to change. I would look around at the other girls around me and think of whether they would wake up in the morning and look at themselves to pick out their imperfections. Probably not. I thought I was different. I thought I was strange. I didn’t fit in. As time went on, I remember the voice joining the equation.

The next addition to the creation of my world was the sound of this little voice in my head telling me everything was going to be okay, and that it had all of the answers. That voice was my friend. That voice was what kept me going when I felt alone in the realization that I was different from everyone else around me. I didn’t need to be like everyone else as long as I had that voice telling me everything was going to be okay. The voice would tell me of my imperfections but would tell me of ways to cure the imperfections. Then came the next steps. Next was restriction. Restriction was the piece of the puzzle that started to make the picture. I started to see what I could be or what the voice wanted me to see. After restriction came the purging and then the laxatives until the whole world was created.

My ED world was created, and I lived in that world. I thought I thrived in that world. I thought I needed that world. I lived in that world for years until that world created a new world. That world created a world of doctors, pain, medicine, bed rest, sadness, and confusion. My ED world became confusing and damaged. It was nothing like what I thought it would be and that picture that began forming when I was young was a mirage. It was a lie that ED made up to keep me trapped. This is the story of the creation of my ED world.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, the National Eating Disorder Association website has the resources to help. Visit to take a free eating disorder screening questionnaire or browse their extensive treatment database. The site also has a helpline that will provide online assistance to anyone struggling with an eating disorder. Simply call (800) 931-2237 for support. The site also helps organize NEDA Walks throughout the country, including the upcoming awareness walk in Orlando on Saturday, May 13. NEDA also encourages individuals with eating disorders to participate in their #NEDAPride social media campaign, which highlights people from marginalized communities who have been impacted by negative body image.

At Broward College, Seahawk Outreach Services (SOS) provides wrap-around services and holistic support to students by connecting them to key campus resources and referring them to community organizations. To learn more about the self-care services offered by Broward College, visit the Mental and Emotional Wellness resource page.”

About the authors:

Alycia Oppenheim has a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida and a master’s degree in Shakespeare Studies from the Shakespeare Institute in England. Passionate about social change, she strives to make a difference in the world. She is an adjunct professor of English at Broward College, where she teaches courses on Shakespearean literature and English composition.

Dr. Phyllis Oppenheim holds a doctorate in health sciences from Nova Southeastern and a master’s degree in health services administration. Because of her daughter Alycia’s struggle with eating disorders, her doctorate focus was eating disorders in general and, specifically, both the early warning signs of an eating disorder and spreading awareness of them.

To order a copy of Alycia’s book, or to browse other books she has written, visit her author page on